Lily left for Outdoor Lab today. It’s a 5-day overnight trip to a beautiful piece of mountain property owned by the school district. All sixth-graders attend. They apply what they’ve been learning all year in the outdoor setting. This restored ranch has served as an hands-on outdoor school since 1961.
Lily was excited to go and husband said she didn’t seem nervous at all when he dropped her off this morning. I think it’s because we prepared her for it. Plus, every summer she goes to overnight camp for 2 weeks so, she shouldn’t have a problem being away from home.
We started preparing her last fall, when we attended an Open House at the Outdoor Lab school on a crisp Saturday afternoon. The aspens were turning gold and the view of the snow-capped mountains was stunning, but it didn’t take long to realize that we hadn’t prepared Lily well enough for the visit.
Off the bat, the organization of the event was a little sketchy. Apparently the idea was to wander around the area, stopping at different stations to get more info. But that’s exactly the opposite of the way Lily wants to learn about something new. She wants to know the big picture first and fill in the details later. This is often a trait of Visual-Spatial learners… whole-part learning. She said, “I just don’t get it. What are we doing here? What is Outdoor Lab?” She began to get agitated and peppered us with questions… “Where do I sleep, where are the bathrooms, where will I change, where do we eat, what are we going to be doing all day, what teachers will be here?… ” I told her we could ask at each station but that wasn’t enough for her.
Finally, we came upon a presentation given by the Outdoor Lab principal. I thought he might give a good overview. But the school nurse spoke first and she talked on and on about medical forms etc, etc. I couldn’t even listen because now we were trapped in this presentation and I could only think about the fact that we still had to visit the bunkhouses to show Lily where she’d be staying, and we were running out of time. I forced my family to get up and leave while the nurse was talking. The principal noticed and commented, “Well, I guess some of us already know what they need to know.” My husband was upset with my rude departure. But I felt like, with a twice exceptional kid like Lily, that sometimes you have to do what you have to do. Having her visit the bunkhouse before we left was more important to me than the nurse’s feelings.
Afterward, I emailed the principal and explained why we left early. He was very understanding and invited us to bring Lily up again for a private tour.
About a month before Outdoor Lab, husband took Lily up for a tour and they explained everything to her. In school, her teachers were also preparing all the students, explaining what they would be studying and giving them a daily schedule.
So, by the time she left this morning, Lily seemed confident and comfortable. I think she’ll have a great time. She just does so much better when she’s fully prepared for new experiences.
Unfortunately, Zoolander probably won’t have the same opportunity as her sister. There’s talk of suspending the Outdoor Lab program because of recent school budget cuts.